Winter 2021 Newsletter

2021 Annual Awards Celebration

For the second year in a row, MJF hosted our Annual Awards Celebration virtually. This year we were honored to hear from Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Natalie Hudson as our keynote speaker and to recognize the winners of our 2021 Outstanding Service Awards:

Legal Services: Kathy Klos, Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota
Private Practice Pro Bono: Jerry Blackwell, Blackwell Burke P.A., Steven Schleicher, Maslon LLP, and Lola Velazquez-Aguilu, Medtronic, for their pro bono work on the prosecution team for the trial of Derek Chauvin
Advocate: Gregg Trautwein, Legal Services of Northwest Minnesota

Law Student awards:
Samantha Prins (University of St. Thomas School of Law)
Brigid Kelly (University of Minnesota Law School)
Brenda Pfahnl (Mitchell Hamline School of Law)

Music was provided by Larry McDonough.

You can read the program of events here.

The video of the full event is available here.

2022 Summer Fellowship Hosts

MJF’s Summer Fellowship Program makes it possible for up to 20 law students each summer to work with legal aid offices and other public interest organizations serving low-income and under-represented Minnesotans. Participating law students help legal aid and volunteer lawyers serve eligible clients, including many who, because of program overload and lack of case priority, otherwise could not be served. The law students learn about the legal needs of eligible clients, develop the skills required to address those needs, and gain the legal experience they will need to perform pro bono legal work after they leave law school.

In 2022, these agencies will be hosting MJF Summer Fellows:

Anishinabe Legal Services
Central Minnesota Legal Services
Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota
Legal Assistance of Dakota County, Ltd.
Legal Service of Northeastern Minnesota
Legal Services of Northwest Minnesota
Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid – Minnesota Disability Law Center
Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid – student’s choice of Housing, Government Benefits, Family Law, Immigration, or Tax
Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid — St. Cloud and Willmar
Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy
Neighborhood Justice Center
Rainbow Health
Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services – Housing
Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services – Mankato
Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services – Economic Justice
Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services – Immigration
Tubman – Legal Services
Washington County Public Defender’s Office
White Earth Tribal Court

Post-Grad Public Interest/Pro Bono Survey

2022 is MJF’s 40th Anniversary! As we evaluate MJF’s programs and plan for the future, we are gathering information about the number of LSPSP participants who go into public interest careers full time or do pro bono work after law school in their private practice. We will be using data gathered here in reports to stakeholders and funders to help demonstrate MJF’s value to the legal community.

Please fill out our survey here.

Spring Break 2022: Submit a Volunteer Project

Lawyers, it isn’t too early to start developing projects for law student volunteers over spring break! MJF has many students express interest in short-term volunteer projects; therefore, MJF encourages agencies and attorneys to think about ways they can use law students to support their work. Does your organization have a public interest-related research project on the backburner? Do you have informational hand-outs for clients that need updating? Are you thinking of scheduling a clinic to help clients with expungements, dissolutions, or other legal issues? Spring break is a great time to harness the power of law student volunteers to accomplish these tasks. Start brainstorming with your colleagues today!

For St. Thomas and UMN students, spring break will be the week of March 7-11, 2022. For Mitchell Hamline students, spring break dates vary by program. To submit a project, please use this volunteer request form and MJF Staff will reach out to you regarding project details. Also, the form can be used if you have volunteer opportunities for students over winter break in January 2022 (it is not too late)!

Street Law

Every Spring semester, MJF invites law students to collaborate with middle school, high school, and adult learning classrooms to teach various rights and responsibilities under the law. Law student volunteers, together with the classroom teachers and students, decide on which areas of law are of interest to the classroom. Most frequently requested topics are: criminal law, family law, interacting with the police, constitutional law, and immigration.

In addition to students learning their legal rights and responsibilities in society, it also serves as a pipeline project to inspire students to go to law school in the future.

Teaching the law is an excellent way to build client interviewing and counseling skills. Additionally, law students find it to be a great joy (and energizing!) to interact with youth and to interact with the law in a new way.

This year, we are excited to make our way back into classrooms after the distance learning of Spring 2021!